How to Drink Tea

Wen and I were exploring Hamarikyu-Teien garden and went into their oh-so-cute teahouse:

Teahouse in Hamarikyu-Teien Garden

Here’s the view from the other side:

Hamarikyu-Teien Garden

Inside it’s a traditional tea house; just tatami mats on the inside:

Teahouse in Hamarikyu-Teien Garden

They serve exactly one type of tea – green – available hot or cold. I had the hot, Wen had the cold:

Creen tea and bean cake

For the sake of us foreigners, they provide a set of instructions on how to properly drink the tea. We had fun following it; here’s a synopsis:

  1. Eat the little cake first. To eat it, place it – and the paper – in your left palm.
  2. Use the wooden knife to cut it in half or quarter it. Do not eat anything until you’ve cut it.
  3. Use the knife to spear the halves/quarters and eat each individually.
  4. Then take the tea bowl in your right hand and place it in your left palm. The design on the bowl should be facing you; make sure that when you place it in your palm it is still facing you.
  5. Using your right hand, rotate the bowl – in a clockwise direction – through two 90 degree turns so that the patterned part faces away from you
  6. Rub the lip of the cup with your fingers and then clean it with a handkerchief or tissue paper.
  7. Drink the tea in three or four sips; there should be no foam left in the bowl